2007 Chrysler Pacifica

AdChoices

2004 Chrysler Pacifica

This 2004 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

New upscale crossover promises to enhance Chrysler's image.
Pros:
  • Sleek
  • Car-like
  • Luxurious
Cons:
  • More power needed
  • Tough to reach third seat
  • Small controls

Chrysler once was among the top luxury cars, along with Cadillac and Lincoln, but that was decades ago. The early 2004 Chrysler Pacifica crossover vehicle should help this brand regain some of its lost glory.

Chrysler built absolutely fabulous cars with advanced engineering in the 1930s, and America's first mass-produced 300-horsepower car was the luxurious 1955 Chrysler C-300 coupe with its powerful "HEMI" V8 and leather upholstery. But the brand's luxury appeal began slipping in the late 1950s and was gone by the early 1970s—partly because Chrysler couldn't keep up with larger, more affluent American rivals.

Making matters worse was the arrival of popular European and Japanese luxury models in the 1980s and 1990s.

A Boost
But Chrysler Corp. got a boost in 1998 when it was bought by Germany's Daimler-Benz, the producer of Mercedes vehicles. Chrysler became a unit of the newly created DaimlerChrysler, but only recently have the fruits of that affiliation started to become clear.

DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit is beginning to tackle the luxury—or "premium"—market again with creative American designers and technical assistance from the Mercedes operation.

Mix of Vehicles
Enter the Pacifica. It's a large, heavy crossover vehicle that really does combine attributes of a sedan, sport-utility vehicle, station wagon and minivan.

The sleekly styled Pacifica is very wide and taller than a car, but not as high as most sport utes. It's about as long as a Chrysler Town & Country minivan, at 198.9 inches, and thus should fit in most garages.

Segment Buster?
"The Pacifica is a new type of premium vehicle—a segment buster," said Tom Marinelli, marketing vice president of the Chrysler unit. "We call it a sports tourer. Even the second-row bucket seats are as comfortable as the first-row buckets. It has great driving dynamics and will appeal to those who want practicality—but don't want vehicles such as a minivan or sport ute."

Auto analyst Ray Windecker, of Michigan's American Autodatum, said the Pacifica should attract new, affluent customers to the Chrysler nameplate, but calls it "just another entry in the crossover market. It's a necessary defensive move in that market, which contains upscale vehicles with third-row seats, such as the Acura MDX and Buick Rendezvous."

Car-like Ride and Handling
The 6-passenger Pacifica has three rows of seats, front- or all-wheel drive and a suspension that delivers car-like ride and handling. Second-row seats slide several inches fore and aft for good leg room. And second- and third-row seatbacks fold forward to enlarge the cargo area, which is good for about a week's worth of family groceries with third-row seatbacks in their normal position. A 4-seater Pacifica eventually will be sold with a larger rear cargo area.

Doors have high window sills designed to—as Chrysler puts it—impart a feeling of security to occupants. However, they may make some occupants feel a little confined because the sills don't allow large glass areas. Still, the view is higher than from a car—although lower than from a sport utility.

Power Pedals
The Pacifica is well-equipped, and even has power-adjustable pedals. But leather upholstery, heated front- and second-row seats, a sunroof and a power tailgate are options. So is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones.

Also optional is a navigation system with a screen in the speedometer face—and nearby controls. While that setup is handy for a driver, it virtually precludes passenger input when navigating.

Safety Items
Being a family vehicle, the Pacifica has many safety features. They include side-curtain airbags for all outboard occupants and an unusual driver airbag to help prevent leg injuries in a collision.

Other new upscale Chrysler vehicles are this year's Crossfire sports coupe, which has a Mercedes engine and transmission, and next year's 300C HEMI sedan. It'll have a V8 with hemispherical ("hemi") combustion chambers, just like the legendary Chrysler HEMI V8.

As for the Pacifica, it shares a rear suspension design with the higher-line Mercedes E-Class cars.

Not Cheap
No upscale vehicle is inexpensive. The front-wheel-drive Pacifica thus costs $30,550 and comes with traction control, while the all-wheel-drive version lists at $32,300.

The Pacifica is powered by a 3.5-liter 250-horsepower V6 from the Chrysler 300M flagship sedan. While noisy when pushed, it provides decent acceleration with a driver and passenger.

However, the Pacifica weighs 4,482-4,625 pounds, so a stronger engine would be appreciated when it contains a load of passengers and cargo—or when driven in hilly terrain. The potent HEMI V8 may be offered for the Pacifica in 2005.

A 5- or 6-speed automatic transmission would help acceleration, but only a 4-speed automatic is offered. It upshifts at 73 mph during a 65-75 mph passing maneuver, instead of holding passing gear until 75 is reached. Still, the Pacifica is a relaxed cruiser, loafing at 2200 rpm at 65 mph.

Mediocre Fuel Economy
Fuel economy isn't very good—an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. However, a 23-gallon tank allows a decent highway cruising range.

Steering is reasonably quick, and handling is very good—thanks to a wide stance and such items as big tires on 17-inch wheels, along with a "performance suspension" with that Mercedes-style rear design.

The Pacifica looks plenty sleek, but lacks the performance of, say, the new but less practical Infiniti FX45. But this Chrysler easily soaks up road irregularities and provides a supremely comfortable ride. Braking is good, with decent pedal feel.

Wide-opening doors with large handles and a low floor make it easy to enter and leave the quiet interior. Second-row seats can be fairly easily flipped forward to allow entry to the third split bench seat. But even nimble folks will find it challenging to reach the third seat, which provides decent room for two medium-size adults.

Small Controls
There are large beverage holders throughout the interior. But the speedometer and tachometer numbers are small—as are sound- and climate-system controls. The nifty analog dashboard clock even seems too small.

However, the ignition switch is conveniently located on the dashboard. Nicely designed Mercedes-style power seat controls are easily operated on the front doors, and rear side windows lower all the way.

The cargo hatch has two large indented areas inside to help yank it down without getting hands dirty on outside sheet metal. But, after third-row seatbacks are pushed forward to enlarge the cargo area, long arms and a body stretch are needed to return them to their upright position from the rear of the Pacifica.

It appears that Chrysler is in the right lane with the Pacifica. It's an easygoing, accomplished crossover with sufficient luxury to satisfy upscale vehicle owners who want something different with a good dose of practicality.

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BB06 - 9/1/2014 7:04:08 AM